Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie and Demi Moore on how it is possible to be a great mum AND hold down a job at the same time
1. It does your kids no harm
First things first, let’s establish that you’re not alone in feeling bad for leaving the kids at nursery or the childminder’s. ‘You feel guilty every time you walk out of the door to go to work,’ says mum of four, Victoria Beckham. So you can stop feeling guilty about, er, feeling guilty. And this might help too: A recent study showed that their mother going to work has zero effect on children’s cognitive and literacy scores, or on their emotions and behaviour. Did you hear that Vix? ZERO EFFECT. So stick that in your pipe, working-mum-hating types. We’ve got work to do.
2. In fact… it makes them happier
Another study of almost 20,000 children found that girls with stay-at-home mothers were twice as likely to suffer emotional or behavioral problems by the age of five than girls with working mothers. It’s thought that it’s good for young girls to see their mothers be independent and engaged professionally. And for boys to see their mum grafting too. Back to VB: ‘My kids bloody well will work. Same as myself, same as David. They’re not going to be the kinds of kids that just hang about. I want them to be able to fulfill their passions, but I think it’s important that the children grow up and have respect for themselves.’
3. Er, your happiness counts too
Now we’ve established you going to work doesn’t turn your little darlings into ASBO-earning, shop-lifting, borstal-dwelling psychos, we can focus on the upsides of a J.O.B. Like earning some money and giving you a sense of purpose and fulfillment. As Jessica Alba says, ‘I love what I do, and I love that I get to have a job that I enjoy so much.’ Plus we bet she agrees that it’s nice to have a solo pee now and again.
4. Mother knows best
We’ll hand over to Demi Moore to explain this one. ‘They are my priority and I’ve always been sensitive to their feelings,’ she says. ‘But as the parent you can’t allow your children to dictate what’s right for you.’ Imagine if we did let them control us? We’d be sleepless, Barbie-styled, Disney-channel addicted, chocolate Rice Crispie cake factories. And that’s a dystopia we can live without, right?
5. It’s healthier for you
A report published in the US Journal of Family Psychology (dunno about you, but that’s not what we’d reach for during a coffee break) found mothers who worked part time were generally in a happier frame of mind and were better able to manage their daily family issues than mothers who worked full time or stayed at home. Plus it gives you the headspace to be 100% present when you are home. ‘Sometimes, when I want to take on the world, I try to remember that it’s just as important to sit down and ask my son how he’s feeling or talk to him about life,’ says Angelina Jolie. Would she be so patient if she was rebuilding the Lego fort for Knox and Vivienne for the gazillionth time?
6. ALL mothering is hard
It’s easy to forget that whether you work zero hours outside the home or 72, you are still 24/7 a mother. But actually putting in all 168 hours a week at home with your child? That takes some doing. In fact only a fifth of stay at home mums say they feel fulfilled. ‘If I’m completely honest, I find staying at home the real work,’ says Myleene Klass. ‘Not only is it relentless, but also a thankless task when you’ve done three loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen surface a gazillion times, made the beds, and had your partner say, “Glad you’re having a day off”. Stay-at-home mums are the unsung heroes of the world. Fact!’ Yeah to what she said.
7. There’s no ‘right’ way to be a mother
‘I’m lucky I can take my babies to work,’ Says Holly Willoughby. ‘I manage to get a good work-life balance. But to be honest I don’t think women can win. Working mums get a tough time and stay-at-home mums get a tough time. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You just have to do what’s right for you.’
8. You’ll be knackered whatever you do
DJ Sara Cox’s seen all sides: ‘If I’m at work, I’m knackered, if I’m at home all day, I’m knackered, but if I do a half day at work and a half day at home, the tiredness is off the scale. It’s just non-stop. The minute I get home I pick up a potato peeler and start dinner, usually with all three of them hanging off me!’ We hear ya, Coxy, we hear ya.
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